Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Saturday, 4 March 2017
The original boys in the band
Fascinating going back to the original BOYS IN THE BAND now, after seeing the recent theatre revival in London the other week (review below, & at Theatre, gay interest labels). William Friedkin's 1970 film features the original cast of nine who played it in New York and London in the late sixties. Its been interesting and sad too finding out what happened to them.
The play and film had long been unseen, and seen as a cliche of early gay stereotypes, but its a fascinating drama by Mart Crowley (still here now) showing how self-loathing some gays were then, before Stonewall and the 1970s gay liberation shook things up. Then of course in the 1980 the Aids spectre arrived ....
There's neurotic Michael who hosts the birthday party for Harold, "a 42 year old pock-marked Jew", his birthday present of the midnight cowboy hustler, then there's uncomplicated nice guy Donald, the screaming queen Emory, coloured guy Bernard, the couple Hank and Larry with their own problems of fidelity, and straight guy Alan who drops in .....
Five of the cast died of Aids-related illnesses: Kenneth Nelson (Michael) aged 63 in 1993, who had a theatre career in London; Frederick Combs (Donald) aged 56 in 1992; Leonard Frey (Harold) aged 49 in 1988 - he was also the tailor in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF; Robert La Tourneaux (cowboy) aged 45 in 1986, and Keith Prentice (Larry) aged 52 in 1992. Cliff Gorman (Emory) had a long career, starting in JUSTINE and LENNY on stage (but lost the film to bigger name Dustin Hoffman) died aged 65 in 2002 of leukaemia. Reuben Green (Bernard) seems to have vanished, while Laurence Luckinbill (Hank) and Peter Green (Alan) are both still here and are interviewed on the 2008 German dvd I got of the film, where director Friedkin enthusases about the cast and the film, as does writer Mart Crowley.
Its fascinating to see it again as originally staged and made cinematic by Friedkin, as the cast use all those props and the food and lots of drink. Its as savage as Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (also having a London revival at the moment), and it remains a great play, capturing a decisive moment in gay evolution.